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Jason Ovid Allard–The late arrival

July 23, 2014

EJ Hughes  - Sternwheeler Umatilla  at Yale, 1858Jason Ovid Allard was born at Fort Langley in 1848. His father Ovid Allard was the Chief Factor at Fort Yale in 1858 and was on board the  Umatilla when that steamer first beat up to Yale on July 20, 1858,  cheered on by hundreds of gold miners lining the riverbanks.

Young Jason experienced the Fraser River gold rush first hand, even working as an interpreter for Judge Mathew Begbie.  Jason’s mother was the sister of the Chief of the Cowichans.

Through his  long residency in British Columbia, his connections with First Nations people, the Hudson’s Bay Company, gold rush miners and colonial officials, Jason Allard became a prime source of information for historians until his death at New Westminster in 1931 at the age of 83.

Derby homestead 1877 – 1915

Jason Allard's house at DerbyAfter an eventful career in the northwest,  Jason Allard had settled permanently at the old Derby townsite in 1877 — as a squatter, since the land had been previously sold, though he was later granted title. There he raised a family.


New Westminster – Opposite the City

By all accounts Allard had moved to New Westminster from Derby in 1915, following the death of his wife.

1921 census - Allard - Wise - Murray - ClarkeYet here  is Jason Allard in 1921, living on the Brownsville "river front," where Kwantlen houses stood in pre-Colonial times.  Residing with Jason  were two daughters, aged 18 and 14.
Allard’s closest neighbor, near the bridge,  was Hugh Murray, who had arrived with his Royal Engineer father and camped across the river at Sapperton in 1859, among those founding the city of New Westminster. 
Nearby to Allard and Murray stood the Clarington Hotel and proprietor Johnnie Wise,  who was born in 1874 at New Westminster, and drove stages along the Yale Road and the old Semiahmoo road in the 1880’s.
Another close neighbor was Fred Clarke, of First Nations heritage, and his wife Sophie, of Tahitian descent.

Jason O Allard at 82Allard, Murray and Clarke all lived on portions of the former Lot 2, once owned by John Herring, father of Sam Herring, the first settler on this side of the river.

Allard appears in the New Westminster city directories from 1927 until his death in 1931. So perhaps he lived 10 or more years over here before moving to the city side.


Jason Allard’s last address — the King Edward Apartments at 425 Columbia Street — was within a shout of where John and Mary Herring’s Mansion House hotel once stood on Front Street.

Last night at the Mansion House

Jason Allard was a guest at the Mansion House on February 9, 1871. Arriving late in the evening, about 10 o’clock,  he came in asked if he could get some supper.  Mrs Herring told him it would be a wait, as the stove had gone cold, but she had her grandson light it again in order to warm up some soup. 

Dating from 1860, the Mansion House had been built for Catherine Lawless, who lost another hotel on the spit at Langley in the fire of 1859.   A large place,  the Mansion House could accommodate 100 guests and in its prime boasted two bars and a bowling alley.

On this night, however, few guests were in the house. Four men and Mrs Herring’s two grandsons were sleeping downstairs near the kitchen. Upstairs were Mrs Herring, Mrs Oppenheimer and a number of children.

Guest  JW Howison at midnight wanted to warm up his feet, and the fire was kept up  in the sitting room stove, where the coffee pot was also set.
Then a little girl came down for some boiling water to take upstairs to Mrs Oppenheimer.  The kitchen stove, which had taken a long time to heat up the soup for Mr Allard, had been stoked with wood by young Smith and was now hot enough for cooking.
After midnight the house had settled down, but for Howison.
Around one in the morning, an express man, Patrick Reid, arrived down from Yale. He was looking to stay at the nearby Telegraph Hotel, which was in the dark, and seeing a light at the Mansion House, knocked on the door.  Howison directed him where to call on the Telegraph proprietor, Mrs Keary.
Some time around 2 in the morning, Mrs Herring smelled smoke upstairs, and after inquiring of Mrs Oppenheimer and seeking the source, she raised an alarm, shouting "Fire."
Jason Allard was the first into the kitchen, throwing dish-water over a small blaze at the back of the cooking stove.  He later stated that if he had more water he thought could have put it out. Charles Smith ran to the Engine House to ring the fire-bell. 
Howison also rushed into the kitchen, where the flames around the stove were now about 6 feet high. He found a bucket of water to throw at it, and finding no more water, went and roused his room-mate, John Latimer.
Reid, who was by then eating his supper in the Telegraph Hotel, "heard some Indians outside hollow "fire" and heard the bell ring. I looked out & saw the Mansion House all in a flame."

All guests managed to get out safely, but the landmark Mansion House was burned to the ground.

It’s not known if Allard related these events to the many historians who came to him for stories of the old days. BA McKelvie, Noel Robinson, Denys Nelson, RL Reid and Judge Howay all profited from his knowledge.   Just one of the many exciting events of his life, his last night at the Mansion House was the last night of the hotel.

Collective memory

As late as 1929, JO Allard was still spry enough to travel to Langley, and sharp enough  to identify some  bones unearthed during construction near the Fort at an old cemetery.

"Mr Allard thought that the bones disturbed were those of Louis Rabiska, son of an Iroquois quarterbreed who came to the fort with James McMillan, its founder, and Mrs August Willing, daughter of the chief of the Whonnock Indians.”

Augustin Willing was a Hudson’s Bay Company employee at Fort Langley in 1858 and was first touted by Governor Douglas to be Revenue Officer there, a post given to WH Bevis.  Bevis, long before Allard, also made the move from Derby down to the riverfront opposite Sapperton, where the Revenue Station was located, at Kikait.

Simon Fraser, 1808 –From those who were present.

Allard told of the early history of the Kwantlen  at Kikait and their first contact with white men, as related to him by his elders.

"I heard from those who were present how . . .Simon Fraser had come down the river and stopped with the Quantlans who had a village opposite to the site of the penitentiary at New Westminster;  how plans were made to kill him because he had kicked several young men who had pilfered a rope and an axe from his stores; and how Chief Wattle-kainum potlatched all his wealth to buy the white man’s life and so prevented the attack from being made."

This occurred in 1808, in the neighborhood of  where Allard was living in 1921 near the south end of the Fraser River bridge.

Jason Ovid Allard born 1848 09 08  Fort Langley, died 1931 12 17 New Westminster.

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